A Walk Round
the Roman Walls of Barcelona
 

This walk round Barcelona's Roman Walls starts at Placa Nova by the Cathedral and follows the perimeter of the ancient Barcino

The walk covers a distance of about 1.4 km and will take around an hour depending how much time you want to spend at each stop.

Plan of Barcino


Large sections of the Roman Walls of Barcelona or Barcino, as the colony was known from the time of Emperor Augustus (27 BC to 14 AD), are still visible and new sections are being uncovered all the time.

We have knowledge of at least two walls during the Roman period - the first was built during the the first century BC and a second, the remains of which we can see today, was built on top of the first probably in the 4th century AD as a defence against invading tribes from the north.



If you look closely at the best preserved sections, you'll see that many of the building materials are recycled from earlier constructions so study of the 4th century wall gives us insights into the earlier Barcino.

Covering a distance of 1,350 metres and following a roughly rectangular shape, the Roman Wall comprised 74 defence towers and was approximately 16 metres high.


Plaça Nova

In Plaça Nova, on either side of Carrer del Bisbe, there are remnants of the two defence towers that straddled the main gate to Barcino - Porta Praetoria.

In fact, Carrer del Bisbe, which continues as Carrer de la Ciutat on the other side of Plaça de Sant Jaume before becoming Carrer del Regomir, follows the same route as Decamanus Maximus, one of the two main streets in the Roman city.

Roman Defence Towers and Aqueduct in Plaça Nova

To the left of the Porta Praetoria, you can see a section of the Roman aqueduct that continued up what is now Portal de l'Àngel and brought water into the city.

Here you can also see Joan Brossa's Barcino sculpture.

Barcino by Joan Brossa


Avinguda de la Catedral

Next to the Museu Diocesà on Avinguda de la Catedral, you can see the start of the lengthy stretch of wall that continues along Plaça Ramon Berenguer el Gran and Carrer del Sotstinent Navarro.

Roman Wall next to Museu Diocesà in Barcelona


Plaça Ramon Berenguer El Gran

The section of Barcelona Roman Walls that begins in Carrer de la Tapineria and Plaça Ramon Berenguer El Gran is one of the longest and most interesting sections of Barcino's Roman Walls.

It is noticeable here that many sections have been rebuilt using modern materials such as brick but if you look closely you'll also see elements that date from the 1st century BC wall.

In fact, during the strengthening and extension of the walls in the 4th century AD, builders reused materials from demolished buildings and it is precisely these remains that have been so useful to archaeologists in mapping out early Barcelona history.

Roman Wall at the beginning of Carrer de la Tapineria

From a visual point of view, Plaça del Ramon Berenguer el Gran is particularly satisfying because you see the juxtaposition of both Roman and Medieval Barcelona.

This section of the Roman wall backs on to the Chapel of Santa Àgata, which dates from 1302 and forms part of the Gothic centre in Plaça del Rei.

Roman Wall and Chapel of Santa Àgata in Plaça Ramon Berenguer el Gran

There's also plenty to see along Carrer de la Tapineria between Plaça Ramon Berenguer el Gran and Plaça de lÀngel.

Roman Wall at end of Plaça Ramon Berenguer el Gran


Plaça de l`Àngel

Although nothing remains to be seen, it is worth stopping at the entrance of Carrer de la Llibreteria in Plaça de l'Àngel.

This was the Porta Principales Sinistra -the western gate to the city -and it marked the beginning of Cardo Maximus, the other of Barcino's two main streets.

It was from here that the city first began growing outside the walls along what was the old Roman Via França, which is now Carrer de la Bòria/Corders/Carders.

Plaça de l'Àngel - Carrer de la Llibreteria


Carrer del Sotstinent Navarro

The section of Roman Wall on Carrer del Sotstinent Navarro is the continuation of what you see in Plaça Ramon Berenguer el Gran.

Roman Walls on Carrer Sotsinent Navarro

In 2012, two buildings were demolished at the far end of the Carrer del Sotstinent Navarro revealing another lengthy section of Roman Wall and excavation work is currently underway as part of Plan Barcino.

New Roman Walls and Ruins on Sotstinent Navarro


Plaça dels Traginers

The defence towers in Plaça dels Traginers formed the corner of the 4th Roman Wall and are in excellent condition.

Roman Defence Tower Plaça dels Traginers


Carrer del Correu Vell

If you turn right into an alley next to the Casal de Gent Gran Pati Llimona at number 5 Carrer del Correu Vell, you can see a large section that few tourists know about.

There are two 4th century quadrangular towers, which in the 14th century were used in the construction of the March Family Palace.

Roman Towers Off Carrer del Correu Vell

The patio backs onto the Centre Civic Pati Llimona which we will be visiting next.

Roman Ruins Just Off Carrer Correu Vell


Carrer del Regomir

Turn right into Carrer del Regomir and at number 3 you'll see a section of the second main city gate was the Porta Decamunus, which was at the maritime end of Decamunus Maximus and gave on to Barcino's main harbour.

Part of Roman Gate on Carrer del Regomir

In 2012, work on the Pati Llimona Centre Civic uncovered another 17 metre stretch of Roman wall and the fact that such an impressive gate gave directly onto the sea, gives an idea of Barcino's importance as a port.

Roman Wall in Centre Civic Pati Llimona

Much of this section formed part of the earlier 1st century Roman Wall.

Roman Ruins in Centre Civic Pati Llimona

Carrer d'Avinyó

The sections of Roman Wall along Carrer d'en Gignàs and Carrer d'Avinyó are hidden by buildings.

However, it is definitely worth stopping and having a drink at La Muralla at number 19 Carrer d'Avinyó because the interior dining room gives on to sections of one of the defence towers.

And there is another section in the Centre para Disminuïts Psychics next door.

Thanks to Barcelona To See and Florestan for the two photos above.


Carrer del Call

There is a small section of Roman Wall at number 1 on Carrer del Call.

If you look at the map at the top of the page you'll see that Carrer del Call deviates from the straight line of Cardo Maximus so this section was very close to the Eastern Gate to Barcino - Porta Principalis Dextra.

It was through this gate that the Moorish general Al-Mansur attacked and subsequently razed Barcelona in 985 AD.

TheRoman Wall on Carrer del Call


Carrer dels Banys Nous

The section of Roman Wall on Carrer dels Banys Nous is also hidden behind buildings.

I spoke to a charming receptionist at the government office at number 16 and she told me that there were important Roman ruins inside the building but that they were closed to the public at present.

Carrer dels Banys Nous


Carrer de la Palla

Just before you reach Plaça Nova again, you come across a long section of Roman Wall behind some bars to your right.

As this is so close to the Cathedral, Gothic buildings were built on top of the two 4th century quadrangular Roman towers.

Roman Towers on Carrer de la Palla

And that's the end of the Walk Round Barcelona's Roman Walls



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